Friday, February 27, 2009

Argentina Responds to CIA's Economic Lies

Washington Post:
The first Economic Intelligence Briefing report was presented to the White House yesterday by the CIA, the agency's new director, Leon Panetta, revealed at a news conference. The addition of economic news to the daily roundup of terrorist attacks and surveillance reports appears to reflect a growing belief among intelligence officials that the economic meltdown is now preeminent among security threats facing the United States....

...The spy agency is following worrisome trends in many corners of the globe, from East Asia to Latin America. In private meetings yesterday, Latin American intelligence officials warned their U.S. counterparts of a crisis spreading throughout the hemisphere, particularly in Argentina, Ecuador and Venezuela, Panetta said.

This is unacceptable. Given the US' primary role in creating this crisis and the incompetence we see here, the CIA ought to leave economics alone. We know the CIA's job in the region is to discredit the dominant left-wing tide, but they are supposed to be more covert than allowing their Director to spew in front of reporters. Argentina, Venezuela and Ecuador are rightly pissed. Argentina has taken the lead in responding.
(Argentina's) Foreign Minister Jorge Taiana called the comments made on Wednesday by CIA Director Leon Panetta "unfounded and irresponsible, especially from an agency that has a sad history of meddling in the affairs of countries in the region."

The US Ambassador to Argentina unfortunately has responded by insulting everyone's intelligence insisting we all simply misinterpreted what we know we heard very plainly. We heard very serious lies and defamations - product of the same Imperialist wishful thinking that infects the media and our host.

We can see the fallacy by looking at one of the most easily comparable and important economic metrics - industrial production. Only one major country in LA registered growth in January - Venezuela (at 2.4%). On the opposite end, Brazil went through the floor (-12.4%). Colombia followed with a 9.6% decline. Mexico has dropped for 8 months and fell 6.7% in January. Their GDP is already in the red and they are burning billions of dollars to prop up the peso.... here is a realistic regional economic portrait.

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Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Colombia Spied on Judges, Lawmakers and Media

The jaw-dropping abuses in Colombia just never seem to let up under President Alvaro Uribe. Of course, all the analysis and discourse in the US automatically takes Uribe at his word, that these are "rogue" agents. If it was one of the "bad left" countries of the region, best believe there'd be no such deference and silence from the media and US Govt.

BOGOTA (AFP) — Colombia's intelligence service was at the center of a political storm Monday, following revelations it spied on judges, politicians and journalists, forcing President Alvaro Uribe to deny he had ordered the move.

The revelations in the Colombian magazine Semana prompted the resignation of the Department of Administrative Security (DAS) deputy director Jorge Alberto Lagos, and may lead to further high profile departures.

"I have never given a single order to monitor these people's private lives," Uribe said Monday.

As well as lawmakers, judges and reporters that were considered political opponents to the Uribe administration, some officials close to the government were also spied on, according to the magazine.

The recordings were beginning to be destroyed in January, according to Semana.

Uribe blamed the illegal eavesdroppings on a group of DAS officials, describing them as a "mafia gang" that hoped to hurt
Colombian democracy.

Since 2002, at the outset of the Uribe government, the DAS has been the target of numerous accusations for alleged links to right-wing paramilitary groups, and for accusations it spied on opposition figures.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Why Obama Should Talk to Chavez

A rare piece in the mainstream media that looks at Latin America and Venezuela with sober eyes. This really could be such an easy "victory"
for Obama- restoring the US image in Latin America. But the right-wingers wouldn't let it happen. Creating boogeymen is too useful at the polls and even good liberals have too deep a resentment against socialism.

By Tim Padgett
Time Magazine, February 18, 2009

Washington started off on the wrong foot with Venezuelan president
President Hugo Chávez shortly after he took office in 1999: Embarking
on his first international tour as head of state, Chávez took a call
from a high-ranking Clinton Administration official, who told the
Venezuelan leader that it would be better for his country's relations
with the U.S. if he avoided visiting Fidel Castro in Cuba. Chávez, a
left-wing nationalist, had yet to develop his gushing friendship with
Castro, but like leaders all over Latin America - even those who
dislike the Cuban leader and his politics - he took umbrage at
Washington's assumption that it could veto his itinerary.
Chávez isn't going anywhere, just as Castro didn't despite almost five
decades of U.S. efforts to isolate him. That fact alone should prompt
President Barack Obama to break with the failed policies of his
predecessors and meet with Chávez ahead of April's Summit of the
Americas in Trinidad.
For one thing, it's a good idea for the U.S. to have a better rapport
with one of its major oil suppliers. Chávez, who said last weekend
he's willing to meet with Obama, likewise seems to realize that his
favorite yanqui enemy, President George W. Bush, is gone, and that a
new relationship might be possible with his major oil customer. And,
as the Castro example demonstrates, it's hard to isolate a Latin
American head of state when the rest of Latin America doesn't sign on
- and most nations in the region are not willing to freeze out Chávez.
He may irritate them, but he also emboldens them, because his
oil-fueled socialist revolution has changed the political conversation
in the Americas. The fact that Venezuela's majority poor have been
enfranchised for the first time has prodded the rest of Latin America
to finally confront its corrosive social inequality. Even officials of
moderate Latin governments say privately they're gratified that
Washington's regional hegemony has been challenged and often blunted
since Chávez took power.
Latin America also sees a certain hypocrisy in the U.S. position. Yes,
Chávez has been a pain in the rear to U.S. oil companies, and he has
cozied up to Iran and staged military maneuvers with Russia in the
Caribbean. But Chávez, unlike U.S. ally Saudi Arabia, at least still
lets U.S. oil firms have stakes in Venezuelan petro projects.
Many poor Venezuelans see his "Bolivarian" revolution, despite its
polarizing effects on the country, as a safeguard against the looming
economic pain of falling oil prices. Analysts such as John Walsh, a
senior associate at the independent Washington Office on Latin
America, may worry that indefinite re-election would allow Chávez
accumulate excessive power, but he credits Chávez with actually
"restoring a modicum of confidence in Venezuela's election system."
He'll find that thawing
relations with Chávez before he goes to Trinidad will do a lot to
break the ice with the rest of the hemisphere once he gets there.

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Thursday, February 05, 2009

Venezuela: Huge Gains Made During Chavez's 10 Years

Report Examines Economy and Social Indicators During the Chávez Decade in Venezuela

The utterly indispensible Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR) in Washington DC released a report on the tenth anniversary of President Hugo Chávez's tenure as President of Venezuela.

When reading these remarkable statistics, keep in mind that the US public has never been told any of these things. The capitalist press only tells us about fictitous and exaggerated "abuses" and totally ignores the positve (see the next post down and this horrible Economist article for proof). If any other country in Latin America had achieved such remarkable results in such a short amount of time, they would be haralded around the world as a model of development.

Key findings of the report include:
The current economic expansion began when the government got control over the national oil company in the first quarter of 2003. Since then, real (inflation-adjusted) GDP has nearly doubled, growing by 94.7 percent in 5.25 years, or 13.5 percent annually.

Most of this growth has been in the non-oil sector of the economy, and the private sector has grown faster than the public sector.

During the current economic expansion, the poverty rate has been cut by more than half, from 54 percent of households in the first half of 2003 to 26 percent at the end of 2008. Extreme poverty has fallen even more, by 72 percent. These poverty rates measure only cash income, and do not take into account increased access to health care or education.

Over the entire decade, the percentage of households in poverty has been reduced by 39 percent, and extreme poverty by more than half.

There have been substantial gains in education, especially higher education, where gross enrollment rates more than doubled from 1999-2000 to 2007-2008.

Over the past decade, the number of social security beneficiaries has more than doubled.

Real (inflation-adjusted) social spending per person more than tripled from 1998-2006

"Looking at the economic data and social indicators, it's not difficult to see why Chávez remains popular and has won so many elections, despite overwhelmingly hostile media coverage," said Mark Weisbrot, Co-Director of CEPR.

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Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Colombia Vs. Venezuela: US Media Distorts Human Rights Issues

FAIR Study: Human Rights Coverage Serving Washington’s Needs
FAIR finds editors downplaying Colombia’s abuses, amplifying Venezuela’s

This needed to be studied. This needed to be said. Very plainly.

Any evenhanded comparison of the Colombian and Venezuelan governments’ human rights records would have to note that, though Venezuela’s record is far from perfect, that country is by every measure a safer place than Colombia to live, vote, organize unions and political groups, speak out against the government or practice journalism.

But a new survey by FAIR shows that, over the past 10 years, editors at four leading U.S. newspapers have focused more on purported human rights abuses in Venezuela than in Colombia, and their commentary would suggest that Venezuela’s government has a worse human rights record than Colombia’s. These papers, FAIR found, seem more interested in reinforcing official U.S. policy toward the region than in genuinely supporting the rights of Colombians and Venezuelans.

As with the FAIR study, selective concern for these issues was the rule, a system in which editors seemed to have internalized U.S. strategic thinking, subordinating human rights commentary and reporting to politics, where a given country’s human rights record is held to greater or lesser scrutiny based on how friendly the country is with the U.S.

Rather than independently and critically assessing the Colombian and Venezuelan records, major corporate newspaper editors, to one degree or another, have subordinated crucial human rights questions.

No couldn't be. Not the NY Times, Washinton Post. Those scions would not totally get their Latin American human rights coverage ASS BACKWARDS, would they? I shudder to think what the coverage is like in less discerning capitalist rags.

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